Updated: Jun 17, 2022
✦ Self improvement has become an increasingly prevalent, and critical, topic of late.
Sure, it has always been there as historically and consistently many of us pledge to make positive changes in our lives, but the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to thrust the topic into hyperdrive as many of us realised quite how fragile we are.
To drive positive momentum out of a desperate situation should be applauded and the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide that have realigned themselves, mentally, physically or otherwise, is a reassuring validation of the human spirit. It is, after all, important to look after yourself and make sure you’re in good health.
How many business owners, however, adopt the same principles to ensure their business ventures are in fine fettle? It may sound like a outlandish comparison but running a health check on your business, whatever its size, should go without saying.
Go one step further. How about if you could actually attain a greater understanding to improve the profitability of your business, maximise your tax situation and cash flow and have a tangible positive impact on those around you in the wider community? Bottom line, post health check, if your business saved or made more money, surely it is a no-brainer, right?
This is where Liz Jarvis steps in. Liz is the founder of Better Business Decisions, a business advisory with a difference that has been helping Australian-based companies better understand and enhance their financial situation for the last two-and-a-half-years.
Liz is a Chartered Accountant with over 35 years experience spent helping business owners deep in the trenches of tax accounting and small business. She is heavily involved in the community, a passion that drives her dedication for helping small and medium businesses all across the country.
It is immediately clear from talking to Liz that she is very much focused on the human touch, something that tends to fly in the face of the common perception of the tax and accounting industry being somewhat stuffy and staid.
“It’s funny you mention that,” she says with a smile. “That was one of the major factors that motivated me to leave behind a secure and stable job with a large local tax practice and set up my own business based on the personable and more relatable approach I enjoyed providing. Ironically, the human touch used to be a big thing in tax and accountancy but the evolution of the industry, ATO requirements and paperless approaches has seen that dwindle away over the years.”
So what is it that sets Liz and her services apart from the rest – after all, tax is unavoidable and numbers are just numbers at the end of the day, right?
Not quite. Liz has purposefully positioned her focus on providing a new branch of accounting that strives to help, guide and educate clients, enabling them to gain clarity and insight to, ultimately, make better financial and business decisions. She is passionate about helping small and medium businesses by empowering them without the need for them to change bookeepers or tax accountants.
“Small and medium businesses are the backbone of Australia,” she says. “There are over 2 million of these ventures operating throughout the country. For the business owner it is imperative to understand their priorities. If a business is not performing, it has a ripple effect that impacts many. Not only does the business and owner suffer but his or her family feels the effects.
“Likewise, this can impact the wider community. I managed to help salvage a food manufacturing business that had 80 employees on its books. It was in a bad state when I sat down with them but thankfully we were able to turn things around. Just imagine if that business had gone under, the direct livelihoods of 80 people would be have been negatively impacted, then in turn their families.”
A member of Jack Delosa’s The Entourage, Liz has attended many training seminars for entrepreneurs over the past few years. Networking involves regularly chatting with many of the small and medium sized business owners and it was through this that a trend started to emerge in that there was a clear disconnect between them and their accountants, which was having a significantly detrimental impact on the financial plight of their organisation.
“Their accountants had simply neglected to inform them of certain issues that were crucially important,” recounts Liz. “It was quite astonishing. For example, there were cases where the individual had not been informed or updated on the opportunity to adjust to quarterly tax instalments to reflect declining income brought about by the fallout from COVID-19.”
Enhancements in technology have seen a widening gap over the years between business owners and accountants, mainly due to an increasing reliance on technology to crunch the numbers. This has led to more of a shallow-thinking approach where people are either not bothered or too confused, even scared, to question things, becoming overly-reliant on clinical technology and rarely, if ever, viewing or questioning the results. However, just like the humans that program them, computers, programs and software can also be wrong sometimes.
“Many business owners are actually being deprived of the ability to understand and harness the numbers when making decisions, and that can be significant,” Liz says.
“My goal is to provide my clients with financial literacy, to enable them to truly understand their financial situation and maximise it.
“I work with my clients to bring them back to the numbers and fully engage with their financial statements – it’s amazing how their perceptions of the business can change just by walking them through their financials as the ‘Story of their business'."
This is conducted via one-to-one strategy sessions that provide both parties a comprehensive overview on the situation and allows them to identify areas where they can work together and maximise a client’s position. Following the in-depth review, which typically lasts 60 minutes but can be longer if required, Liz will forward a proposal to the client pinpointing the issues or areas that may have been overlooked or neglected. This not only gives a clearer holistic overview but installs confidence in the client who now has both a more knowledgeable grasp on the business and a better understanding of sound financial planning.
Her customers retain the services of their accountants and Liz recounts many instances where the accountant has been left pleasantly surprised when they learn their clients have become much more financially savvy and literate.
“It’s prudent to not let others determine how your financial affairs are presented,” comments Liz. “Having a much clearer understanding on the dynamics of your business is a far healthier position to be in.”
Liz is somewhat comparable to a doctor in that she assesses the health of the patient/business then diagnoses how things can be improved – only the remedy doesn’t come in pill or medicine form, it is the responsibility of the business owner and his or her accountant to get affairs back to rude health.
Zoom me up!
As it did on so many, COVID-19 impacted Liz and her business. The Omicron variant of the virus hit just before the start of the financial year resulting in several clients being forced to hold off signing contracts due to their precarious financial state.
However, always one to recognise an opportunity even in a desperate situation, Liz used the time to hone her business operations and realign her marketing messaging, ensuring it was on point with her directives. Most of her business was conducted virtually via Zoom calls prior to COVID-19 anyway so the no face-to-face contact regulation that hit wasn’t overly new to her.
“In a way COVID-19 normalised the approach to working remotely via Zoom,” she says. “Many of my clients are entrepreneurs with busy schedules who prefer to conduct their assessments via video call. I would estimate moving forward that approximately 80% of my business will be conducted via Zoom and 20% in person in my or the client’s office."
We have all become so used to communicating with colleagues, prospects, clients, friends and family via a screen that it makes sense. And Liz loses none of her warm, personable touch whether you connect with her in person or via a video call. “Improving financial intelligence and receiving expert guidance in the safety of your own Zoom room environment,” Liz says!
Ultimately, many businesses were hit hard by COVID so the chance to conduct a health check on one’s company and maximise profitability is arguably more crucial now than ever.
I ask Liz what her future aspirations are for the business. Her answer is and immediate and purposeful: “I want to continue helping small and medium sized businesses. This is, genuinely, my passion. I enjoy the company of entrepreneurs, learning new things and I hope to continue to be able to do this while helping others. I genuinely believe that the support, guidance and education I provide helps people make better business decisions.
“I am considering the possibility of developing an App,” she adds. “I think adding a gamified element to it would encourage participation and commitment to deliver on the tasks set. Most people in business, entrepreneurs, are competitive so having set targets per week that need to be completed in order to enhance your business could work. Also people could benchmark against one another, further emphasising and leveraging the competitive edge. It can have a knock-on, compound effect where people are helping people help people...”
It is something Liz does every day which she excels at and she will no doubt continue doing so for many years to come. Indeed, it makes absolute sense when I ask her if she has any form of personal or business mantra that she abides by.
Quoting American lawyer, writer, and orator during the Golden Age of Free Thought, Liz replies: “We rise by lifting others.”
Liz Jarvis very much practices what she preaches.
Liz Jarvis BEc CA
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd_7znD53DbzVfmLoFPVZWQ
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